On 9 October 2012, Pictet announced that Medair has been chosen to receive support as part of the Prix Pictet Commission, with photographer Simon Norfolk being sent to Medair’s project in Afghanistan’s Central Highlands to capture images the world rarely sees.
Every year, the Prix Pictet Commission aims to draw attention to issues of sustainability with a focus on neglected communities that face social and environmental threats.
“We are immensely grateful to Pictet for their support,” said Medair CEO Jim Ingram. “They are doing vital work to raise and deepen awareness about environmental and social changes that threaten the world’s most vulnerable.”
Afghanistan’s Central Highlands
Villages in the Central Highlands are particularly vulnerable to flooding, drought, and harsh weather conditions. After many years of conflict, knowledge that Afghan farmers had in the past about how to manage the land and look after the environment has largely been neglected in the focus on short-term survival. The land is overgrazed, the trees and grass are mostly gone, the ground is hard and almost impenetrable. These are ideal conditions for flash flooding.
In 2010, the worst flash floods in 50 years devastated many Central Highland communities. Last year, a terrible drought ruined harvests and a harsh winter in 2012 made matters worse.
Medair is now running a cash-for-work programme in drought-affected villages to help build land and water management structures such as check dams, catch dams, embankments, and contour trenches. These structures not only reduce the impact of flooding but also improve soil infiltration and irrigation, which in turn leads to higher crop yields – and reduces the impact of future droughts. These are simple preventative actions with a long-lasting impact.
The Prix Pictet Commission
In spring 2013, acclaimed documentary photographer Simon Norfolk will travel to the Central Highlands to carry out his commission. The photographs produced for the commission will be previewed at Les Rencontres d’Arles in July 2013 and will then be shown at an exhibition in London. A monograph featuring the photographs taken on this expedition will be published by teNeues.
“Thanks to this support, people will be able to see a region of the world that exists outside the media spotlight,” said Mr. Ingram. “These are resilient farmers who live and toil in anonymity, trying to grow enough food to survive every year. These are people who long to protect their communities from frequent disasters but need assistance to get it done. With this commission, the world will be seeing more of the people of Central Highlands—just as the Central Highlands will be seeing more support from the world on its road to sustainability.”
Pictet & Cie
Pictet & Cie is a leading global investment bank that believes in the need for sustainable business practices and greater sustainability worldwide. The Prix Pictet is awarded annually to a photographer whose work raises awareness and provides commentary on environmental and social threats.
Medair’s work in Afghanistan is supported by Swiss Solidarity, the Mennonite Central Committee and Canadian Food Grain Bank, the E.C. Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, the Arcanum Foundation, Pictet & Cie, and private donations.
This web update was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.
Frequent natural disasters compound the distress of this chronically underdeveloped country.
06-10 8:08 | Photo story on @BBCNews about #food insecurity in Bamyan, #Afghanistan, from our Field Communications Officer Maria: http://t.co/Ilu9YKAjw2